California born, Chicago based elite emcee, Orlando Coolridge took this latest single to his west coast roots with AK LIKE YOU KNO. A groovy bass rhythm and a clap on the one and the three. Coolridge croons a catchy hook with slight auto-tune to add some accent to the chorus. A member of SlumpGang777, and a regular contender on the No Coast rap battle circuit. When Coolridge is not lighting up his opposition in a battle, or touring with his collective, you can find him rocking some of the best shows in the Midwest, and dropping regular tunes with it.
AK LIKE U KNO brings out a funkier side of the rap battle extraordinaire, and the song still contains the classic Coolridge bar structure. Coolridge raps, “You can probably catch me on the I-5, chronic in the left hand, sliding by the skyline. It’s my time, to show off my divine mind, my style ages like fine wine, Malibus most wanted with the fine dine.” The exceptional way he strings together lines is definitely not void in his latest single, you get classic and contemporary Coolridge all in one record.
Chicago’s HxLT comes out with his own tribute to the Black Lives Matter movement. The short project contains just three tracks but it packs some power. Filled with distorted bass, percussion, raw lyricism and chants depicting the angst of the current social-political atmosphere. It holds more of the Punk genre audio aesthetic, with the anti-authority, anarcho attitude, audio distortion and gutteral vocals, compared to his more hip hop and edm releases. The final track, NO MORE, jumps into the 90’s militant minded, political hip hop that first shed light on police brutality in its peak popularity, and that era’s message is just as relevant today.
Originally from Omaha, Nebraska, Wilhelm Duke now resides in Chicago where he pursues hip hop independently. Starting off first making moves as a duo with another artist, he eventually disbanded to expand on his solo work. A talented artist and an innovator, with lightning fast lyricism, deep philosophies and a motivation to empower his local collective of artists. Not only pursuing music, Duke dips into journalistic writing and videographic cypher episodes, highlighting talented hip hop artists.
As if he does not write enough here on Ever Evolved as a music journalist, he adds even more to his political journal online, and gets insanely creative with how much words he can fit into a song. Does not seem to stress him as though these thoughts run though his head on a regular; his philosophical ideology may also point to the concepts in his music. With two recent releases, he conceptualizes his music as it would be on the radio, and in another track he raps about the divine feminine, independent women of the world. The radio concept is appropriately titled POP FLOW and the feminine track, Y.D.N.A.M.
POP FLOW is more relaxed lyrically compared to his other tracks, notably in his latest LP THE ROBBER BARON, and tracks like WANT SMOKE. Perhaps done purposely, as radio plays are simplistic in style and lyrics? Y.D.N.A.M. takes on a different persona, as Duke rapes over an R&B beat, experimenting with vocalizing, to take to empowering women. Pointing at perspectives that negate the power of women, in the world and in relationships, Duke sees people, of all kinds, as equal in potential and in their rights. There is always something to take from when listening to Wilhelm Duke, with his lyricism being catchy and holding metaphoric wisdom simultaneously, read between the lines!
With a work ethic that can rival Curren$y, and a freestyle flow that is raw and endless, there is more than enough Radcliff Music to keep your speakers rockin’. With the Educated Low Life brand, as a scholar and street artist, Radcliff continues to promote individuality and resilience to adversity in himself and others through his verses. If you can keep up with his lyricism you can learn a couple new philosophies and ways to go about life. But the message is clear: be authentic, mind your own and put in some work!
Recently on a streak of releases on Youtube, during lockdown season, taking advantage of the free time to hit the studio. His latest comes as a collaboration and a single with a couple of different energies! Fresh with KEEP UP, features artists Tamica Renee and King Rozzie, this track has a more R&B vibe to it, with its beat and feminine vocals, balanced with Radcliffs lyricism. This will follow up on his track IN THE CLOUDS, with a more relaxed lo-fi beat produced by Nate Broski. These tracks, along with FOX FLOW, are his first releases on soundcloud after a hot minute, following his Youtube marathon.
Ivan L is a hip hop artist based in Pompano Beach, Florida (same area Kodak Black hails from) with an impeccable work ethic. Ever Evolved has booked him for Chicago gigs multiple times, and he always delivers an amazing performance. On June 9th he released ALL EYES ON VITO, a fifteen track album that Ivan L describes as a retro-futuristic mashup with West Coast influence. His style is also slightly reminiscent of A$AP Ferg and Big KRIT. He has a great blend of Southern and Western hip hop in his latest record, and it is perfect to bump for that night time driving.
The entire record is filled with strong lyrics and references to pop culture, both old and new. Take LE$STAT ON WASHINGTON AVE, a reference to INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE, or MICHAEL BAY featuring Ant40oz, a reference to the infamous crashing glass and explosions of Michael Bay directed cinema. In CAN’T SLOW DOWN 2096, Ivan L drops unique and new Michael Jordan references one may not be privy to in other hip hop. In JULIETTE MICHELLE, a reference to an extremely busty and thick cosplay model, in this track Ivan L also references things like Norman Bates from AMERICAN PSYCHO, in regards to his rapping prowess. There is so much cultural history that Ivan L drops inside, ALL EYES ON VITO.
The production is a mixture of cutting edge newer sounds, as well as core hip hop, archaic drum breaks. There is also sampling of the classic film, BACK TO THE FUTURE with Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd. The concept and theme of new vs old are prevalent through out ALL EYES ON VITO. If you enjoy old school hip hop, new wave hip hop and music with many references that continue to tickle the nostalgia of 80’s and 90’s babies, then this record is absolutely for you.
A real lover of hip hop music in Chicago, Rizzi Konway has been very active in the music community as early as 2009! He has created a vast network of seriously talented underground Chicago artists, due to the fact that his style and flow is authentic and unexaggerated. Being multi talented as well, he originally got his start in music producing with ProTools. Rizzi has been getting recognized in front of audiences at handful of venues, performing at spots like Refuge, Olympic Theater, the Abbey, Subterranean, Beat Kitchen, even Daley Plaza for Chicago Sizzle Radio, and frequenting open mics at venues like Uncommon Ground and Innjoy. His efforts thus far has even gotten him an interview for Artist PR.
Since joining Tiny Chain Gang, he has seen more releases, like his projects BLKDMN & DIGITAL, and Rizzi is back with another one called MORNING/MOURNING. This release will feature many popular and underground artists, giving you the scope of his reach within the hip hop music community in Chicago. Names you should be familiar with like BaSkaveli, MOE CYRUS, Will Is Chillin’, Vantablac SOL, EELSIRCC, Rebel Legato and DJ Hool. The first lines of this whole project can summarize his mentality and effort with his music and life, “Workin, workin, workin, never sleepin’. A paper chase is wearing out my feet, can’t take a break cause rest is for the weak. If you cut my pay, decapitate a thief.”
Straight off the bat, MORNING/MOURNING hits you with awe, but to get more of an idea of his complete style and energy keep listening. The very next track, IT’S US, shines light on his more suave side, with an R&B beat, a catchy chorus, and 4+ artist on one song, you can catch a vibe easily, but wait till you hear BET IT ALL. From raw to smooth, he jumps into playfulness, positivity and motivation with enlightening lyricism on the following track, ELEVATE with EELSIRCC and Rebel Legato. “My n*gga we risin up, im living the life I love, so I’m reaching the skies above, we can get high enough.” The first half of MORNING/MOURNING sets you up nicely for the latter half, as he juggles retrospection, raw lyricism and lo-fi tracks that can soothe your soul.
When it comes to abstract art and artists, most would think of visual art, but ESSSE Guey takes the idea and places it into his music. From his image, to his spelling, to his lyrics and wild behavior. Essse really does not follow the rules, and it works out for him musically and even visually, with his collection of music videos. As a Hip Hop artists he puts his whole mind on display, and he does not shy away from those explicit thoughts either!
His most recent music video, OD Featuring RhymSter, is a perfect visual representation of abstract antics. In the video, you will see ESSSE climbing gates, jumping around a ware house, running around dark rooms fitted with a betelgeuse (Beetlejuice) getup and masks. “Open minded odyssey, anarchy to gravity, higher than a remedy, OD off of-” ESSSE pops in with the chorus. Even the whole format of the video is abstract, with skits in the middle and the end, and even bloopers and behind the scenes footage to really reel you in.
From his image and antics, you can see the Salvador Dali, Pablo Picasso esque quality ESSSE brings to hip hop. But more than only his style and attitude, his lyricism brings him a long way as well. Recently releasing a 6 track EP, dubbed TIMES LIKE THESSSE, featuring many local artists like Baggz, Black Joe, BeatrixKiddo, RhymSterand Mike Booth. Pay attention to how expresses himself in his songs, ad-libbing with grunts, growls and barks, bouncing between Spanish and English language. His lyrics can cover anything from being carefree, ominous thoughts and activities, mischievousness, sexuality, hustle and motivation, as evident through just the song titles in TIMES LIKE THESSSE, like NO CHASIN, NO Z’S, DO NOT GIVE A DAMN and SKULLS.
Will Is Chillin’ dropped a six track EP earlier this month titled LOITERING. The whole record perfectly sums up what everyone has been feeling the last two months, with the state enforced lock downs due to the COVID-19 historical pandemic. In the first song, I CAN’T WAIT TO BE OUTSIDE, Will Is Chillin’ lays out some very logical and common sense issues that arose because of mandatory business closings. He raps, “Can’t bartend from home, rent due on the first, how am I to make ends?” In Chicago, tens of thousands of service industry workers lost their jobs, and many well respected traveling musicians and artists rely on that as a source of income. Will Is Chillin’ recruited VantaBlac Sol and Rebel Legato, fellow Tiny Chain Gang members on track four, RIVER.
The shutdown definitely has weighed heavily on artists that both perform and work in bars. But not just artists, anyone can relate to these themes throughout LOITERING. Later in track one he raps, “Yes, I’m unemployed and it is out of my control… Wait, I can’t be depressed, need to remain positive but I won’t take a test!” There are many citizens right now that would oppose a mandatory vaccination, or to be tested after being exposed by contact tracing. This line tackles multiple ideas in that regard, Will Is Chillin’ needs to keep it together, smile through it, and hopefully not inundate himself into the medical system too much.
On the last track, APRIL 1ST, Will Is Chillin’ brings up points such as, “Stuck in this predicament, no therapy to cope, daring your eviction necessarily revoked.” This is a line that had one a tad baffled, but the ideas surrounding a lack of access to mental health care, and possibly being evicted due to not being able to pay rent, are extremely relevant given the current COVID-19 crisis. Will Is Chillin’ creates many layers of commentary through each track about our collective fears, anxieties, thoughts, hopes and worries in relation to the pandemic of 2020. If you cannot wait to be outside too, then make sure to give Loitering by Will Is Chillin a spin!
A favorite when it comes to R&B, especially if we are talking Chicago, Jean Deaux is a must have for your playlist. She is a mystifying figure, always making big moves, with big names. She has both, the cities attitude and a sense of seduction. With her hip hop influence, she balances between being intimate and powerful. Her ear for a good beat, and her lyrical talent and original flows makes her an unstoppable artist!
Recently Jean Deaux released her EP, WATCH THIS!, with the help of some talented artists. On production she would would have artists like Ambi Lyric, Prodxvzn, daedaePIVOT, Letmode, 1Mind, Grant Strumwasser, ROMderful, and she even has her own work on production, with Renzell on the track FLICK! Always working closely with big names in Chicago like Ravyn Lenae, Phoelix, PIVOT with DaeDae and Saba, THEMpeople, and Nico Segal associated with SAVEMONEY and more; she leaves quite the imprint in Chicago hip hop and R&B. Taking a look at her lyrics and style, it is apparent as to why such notable artists with Jean Deaux and vice versa!
“Might break a tradition. You ain’t gotta like my opinions or who my friends is, tell me where the benji’s? – You see, bae, don’t, play,” Jean Deaux switches up style between her verse and chorus flawlessly, OK! is an easy favorite. Her confidence and attitude shines in FLICK (STACEY), featuring Yung Baby Tate, singing: “You can’t hit it if you call me talking crazy baby, I am not your lady ’cause you bought me a mercedes, ‘cedes, no you cannot fuck me if you lay up in that lazy, safety. First thing you gon’ strap up before you jump into this hesitatin;” straight off the bat, with a hot flow! Then she follows up with MOODY!, featuring Saba PIVOT, and a personal favorite, VALID! with its chorus, and you realize how hot this EP is. The whole project and Jean Deaux’s talent really speaks for itself, hear for yourself!
As an artist, every piece of work released has a deep connection between producer and fan, a proud achievement made from pure will and effort. IIIMPULSIVEEE comes out with a single release, dubbed THIS IS APART OF ME, to outline this connection. This Chicago artist has a fluent flow on the mic, and with it he outlines his life. Starting off with “I been lookin at the mirror every year how did I get here, it’s not clear… On days I’m not complete, trust my heart with the beat.” It is lines laid out like that, that give you an idea of how much effort an artist like IIIMPULSIVEEE puts into the track, not just from the moment of recording, but the journey to the booth.